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Cosplay: Why We Do What We Do featuring MzTiyah Cosplay

Cosplay: Why We Do What We Do featuring MzTiyah Cosplay

If you didn’t know, February 2017 is the third anniversary of the 28 Days of Black Cosplay hashtag started by Chaka Cumberbach to celebrate Black cosplayers. This hashtag movement has only grown and continues to spotlight the amazing work done by Black cosplayers.

It’s no secret that I love cosplay. I think it’s potentially one of the most creative and fun ways to express yourself. Every costume I do speaks to and of a specific part of my personality and I love the versatility and problem-solving required to fully realize an idea and every time I do it, I learn something new.

This hobby speaks to me in a way nothing else does. It speaks to many people differently, while simultaneously bringing us all together. I spoke with several cosplayers in my immediate network about why they do it and the impact it’s had on their lives. This time, I’ve taken the time to ask some cosplayers in my extended network what cosplay is for them.

Photographer: Christian Foster; Additional Image Effects: Tia Cherie Polite

Cosplay as self-expression - MzTiyah Cosplay, cosplaying 9 years

“I’ve been cosplaying since 2008 but interestingly it wasn’t until around 2010 that I even knew what cosplay was. I started out performing with a stage combat group called the Jedi Guardians where we performed our kenjutsu routines dressed as Star Wars characters and used stunt lightsabers.

Some of the members were going to an event in Atlanta the next year called “DragonCon” and asked if I wanted to go. I was blown away by it all and heard that this form of costuming, as I had been calling it, was known as Cosplay. I started learning more about it and the next year I put together my first Storm costume and started cosplaying. Over the years, I’ve learned how to make my own props, commission items and do a “little” of my own sewing which I hope to increase once I find the time.

Cosplay is important to me because it is a direct extension of my creativity. What I mean by that is it is one of the methods I use to self-express. My cosplays are all very personal to me as they represent how I would be as that character. Because it represents “how I would be” I don’t tend to be overly focused on 100% accuracy in my cosplays in regards to how the character appears in comics or on TV because I just don’t get as much fun out of it. The fun for me comes with making my own interpretation of a character while still being recognizable as that character. Sometimes it is based on an existing version of that character but most times I take a more unique approach.

For example, I’m big on amalgams or mixtures of characters or characteristics to create something new. I’ve followed this approach for my Blaxploitation Catwoman and Black Lantern Storm cosplays.

I also do a lot of Rule 63 cosplay which states that for every fictional character, there exists an opposite-gender counterpart. I did this for my Noob Saibot, Bishop & Hawkeye cosplays.

So, when someone comes up and asks for a pic and loves my interpretation of the character it’s just the absolute best feeling. All this make this wonderful hobby I’m involved in so much fun.

I would like for (the cosplay community) it to not be so hung up on “looking exactly like the character”. It creates unrealistic expectations and ends up excluding people who don’t “look” like a character do to color, size gender or whatever reason. This becomes especially troubling when there is such a lack of POC or plus size characters, especially in the mainstream and if you can name them off the top of your head it means there aren’t enough of them.

Then there is also the whole issue of Blackface, I mean really? Is it really that hard to understand? Just don’t do. Enough with the “but I didn’t mean…”or “I was just honoring…”. No excuses just stop it. Be better than that and don’t do it. All these things and more serve no purpose and have no benefit and just creates more unnecessary divide among us and there is enough of that going on in the everyday world daily as it is. Does it really need to be a part of this fun hobby too? Be better than that.”

More about MzTiyah:

Tia has an independent film production and visual effects company called Black Rose Dagger Films, LLC where she is the founder and CEO. The studio focuses on sci-fi, action & adventure, thriller and martial arts films. Her goal is to keep diversity as an integral part of what they’re creating. She does this starting with character creation and storytelling all the way to casting, and the crew she staffs.

You can find out more about MzTiyah's cosplay on her Facebook page. Information on her production company and filmmaking via the below links:

www.blackrosedagger.com

www.facebook.com/BRDFilms

www.facebook.com/tiacheriepolite

http://www.imdb.me/tiacheriepolite

https://www.stage32.com/tiacpolite

https://twitter.com/tiacpolite

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